Category Archives: athena

Farmtastic! ~Snippets of the Week~

Where to begin?

Cubby was waiting to go inside when I arrived at the farm. He only has one eye now and the remaining one sees very little, but he plugs along. Such a little trooper!

“Who opens gates? Amateurs.”

Lunar, hamming it up at the fence!

“Uh, we’re waiting!”

Gully takes a scratching break.

Messy, messy girl!

Traffic jam…

I know they look like regular roosters, but these guys are about a foot long. Their INCREDIBLY LOUD voices certainly make up for their pint size, though.

“Yes, I am a gentleman. Why do you ask?”

Look for my post later in the week that’s all about the baby!

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Filed under alpacas, athena, cats, dogs, goats, gulliver, horses, humor, lunar, photography, roosters, sheep, winslow farm

What’s going on in that little brain, Athena?

Last week, as my ears filled with sounds of happy munching, Athena walked out of the barn and slowly made her way across to the gate until she stopped in front of it. She stood there for a few minutes looking off in the distance at what I was assuming was the sheep house in safe side. I convinced her to come back and eat, but a little while later she did the same thing. I don’t know if it’s because love is in the air, but I’m pretty sure she wanted to spend some time with a specific somebody. Maybe it’s Cotton! They’d be so cute together.

Here’s a brief video of her journey:

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Filed under athena, behavior, sheep, videos, winslow farm

Treats!!!

I brought horse treats with me to the barn today. They’re called Uncle Jimmy’s Squeezy Buns! How cute is THAT?

Lunar wanted them so much that she was kicking the door and stretching her neck as far over as she possibly could. Gully, Athena, Spirit and she all got some in their food. I made sure that Lunar’s were soaked with her grain, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her this impatient about getting her dinner. She LOVED them when I (finally!) gave them to her. Gully gobbled them down, Athena ate some and saved some for later and I have no idea about Spirit, since he was cranky. But all in all, it was a success. I am going to bring them treats every week and am so excited about it! Ahhh, the little things.

Later, I was chatting on the phone and Gully decided I wasn’t paying enough attention to him, so he bit my hand! And then he pulled my hair! Really hard!! Thanks a lot, dude. :p

Can’t wait until next week!

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Filed under athena, goats, gulliver, horses, humor, lunar, sheep, winslow farm

Lesson Learned

On a typical day, one of the kids brings Spirit and Lunar up to the barn and I either help get them into the barn or they bring them all the way to their pens. No matter what though, Gulliver and Athena do not get their food before the horses have arrived. Today, everyone was super busy around the farm and Gulliver and Athena were waiting for me. After a while, I realized that the horses probably weren’t coming any time soon, so I fed my waiting buddies. They were just standing there staring at me, after all.

Once I gave them their grain, I realized that the doors to the barn wouldn’t shut all the way due to frost heaves. I discovered this when the alpaca ladies came around looking to steal Athena’s food. Outwitting them, I put up an impromptu gate made of a rake and a broom that formed an “x” across the remaining opening. They recognized this as a “do not enter” sign and gave up easily.

Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me until too late that I’d left Athena defenseless against Spirit and Lunar, who’d soon be coming. Even more unfortunate, because she was in a hurry, the girl who brought them up let them run through the gate and shut it behind them. This left the task of getting them into the barn a solo project. I’ve mentioned before that both Spirit and Lunar, although they react differently, are food aggressive. I panicked and tried to close the doors more, which only made a tighter hole for them to get into. It was one they could definitely enter but without the room to turn around properly could not as easily exit. I did my best to get them out of the space but when one would vacate, the other would enter. Poor Athena was trapped in a corner with no escape. Rest assured, they didn’t touch her.

My outcome wasn’t as lucky. After I finally got Spirit out of the space, I tried to shoe him on to get him to go around the barn by tapping his butt with my hand. He countered by tapping my ribs with his back leg. Yes, I am totally fine. It was only a warning kick that barely made contact. But it reminded me, immediately, just how small I am compared to him and just how much I take that for granted. I was very lucky that he didn’t kick me for real.

Somehow, without touching either of them, I managed to get first Lunar and, once she was locked up tight, Spirit, to go by Athena through the barn. Neither of them stopped again for her food which felt miraculous.

I don’t know if Gulliver could tell that I was upset, but he was extra cuddly with me tonight. I left the farm happy and ready for next week, a serious lesson under my belt.

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Filed under alpacas, athena, behavior, goats, gulliver, horses, lunar, sheep, winslow farm

Wow, how time flies!

I can’t believe that my last post was on November 21st! It feels like 14 million things have happened since then. Although, realistically, it’s kind of amazing to me how consistent it is there each week. My duties pretty much stay the same, with an added blanket or an extra scoop of grain mixed in. Gulliver continues to be one of the most amazing beings I can imagine and cuddling with him is excellent every single time. That’s really no excuse not to write though, so I’m going to sit here eating gummy bears and try to fill in lost time.

One Monday, I spent a while walking around the corral with Lunar, my arm slung over her back. I’m not sure how adequately I can describe how cool that was.

The pheasant has continued to plague me. He is such a jerk! On the same day as the walk with Lunar, he made the mistake of trying to attack me with her at my side. She stomped after him with such force, neighing loudly, that it even scared me! Score!

A few weeks ago, I went down to the barn to collect Gulliver and there is a maze of gates to get through on the way back. He was so impatient that he didn’t wait for me to open one of the gates all the way and he got stuck. It took a while to stop laughing before I could free him.

Opie, the little piggy who spends most of her time snoring under a blanket, was out and about while on my way to collect Gulliver. I squatted down to say hello to her. She had food all over her snout and she kindly shared some with my knee. It was just about one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. I scratched her head for a while and then continued on my mission.

Right about when the cold weather was kicking in for the season, I was given the task again to put on the horse coats. A little out of practice, Spirit’s snort of derision after I finally got his on said it all. Oh well, practice makes perfect, right?

Another day, I walked passed the regular gaggle of roosters (you thought I’d say “geese”, didn’t you? Nope. They just wait until I’m walking through and try to eat my coat). Standing among them was one of the peacocks. I don’t know why it was such a “wow” moment for me but it caught me off guard. There he was, going about his business, just hanging out, and yet he’s fluorescent blue. So normal and out of place at the same time. Majestic. I thought, “Yup. I get to spend time at a place where walking by a peacock is just a regular Monday. Awesome.”

Recently, Spirit and Cloud (the mule) have fallen in love. Hard core – don’t ever leave me – I’ll just scream on the top of my lungs until I see you again – love. When one of the kids brings Spirit up to the barn, blood curdling cries of anguish can be heard down by the lower barn as Cloud pierces the air with her mournful song. And no matter how much food and comfort I try to give him, Spirit yells at me for a solid five minutes in between bites of his dinner. Cloud has even been known to use her powers by breaking down fences to get to him. Now that’s Love.

Speaking of love, here are some videos of my friends being awesome:

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Filed under alpacas, athena, goats, gulliver, horses, humor, pheasant, piggies, roosters, videos, waterford, winslow farm

Athena Beans!

Today I had a Wheaton College student training with me in the barn. We got to talking about Athena  and I mentioned that I gave up on trying to pet her a long time ago. I went into Gully’s pen a bit later for our weekly smoosh fest and she stayed outside with Athena. I watched as she reached down and petted her on the head. ???

I waited until she left and went out to Athena. There was a lot of ego riding on this for me. If she moved away, I’d be crushed. Tentatively, I reached my hand out and patted her on the head. No movement. Astonished, I buried my hand in her vast depths of fluff. She is SO soft!! I started petting her nose and went as far as scratching behinds her ears. Not a single motion to get up and leave passed through her. I have attained petting status!!!

Now that my original Winslow goal has been accomplished, I can’t wait to focus on her more. I’m also excited to discover what my new goal will be. Petting the alpacas, maybe?

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Rain, rain, rain.

The last two weeks have been all about rain. I’ve spent much of the time dashing around from barn to barn, waiting for the drops to stop and hiding out in the big barn. Since there’s not much to say about the rain, here are a few pics.

Sudden downpour…

that lasts forever…

All the animals are driven inside. Most are far enough away from the rain. Not Miss Athena, though.

Little Bailey, sopping wet.

Captain Oblivious chomps away at his hay.

And just as quickly, the storm is gone.

Back to the grind.

Buddies!

Kitty in a box!

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Filed under athena, cats, goats, gulliver, horses, sheep, spirit, winslow farm

New Friends!

I just started a job at a nursery where they have a handful of ponies that were rescued. I know, perfect job, right? Don’t worry, I’ll still be going to Winslow every week. As I adjust from waking up whenever I feel like it to being at work AT 7:30am, I’ve been passed out drooling by 9pm for a little over a week. As I adjust, I’ll be able to write these on time. Until then, double posts it is!

Taking it a step farther, I’m going to rely on my pictures to catch you up:

I love that birds can sleep standing up. I love even more that these geese all hunkered down for a nap together.

I also enjoyed that this emu went back to sleep while I fussed around him getting camera angles. And it never ceases to fascinate me how these giant birds fold into themselves like this. It’s just so bizarre!

Look at this beautiful girl! I took this while Little Miss Peahen was on a date with the albino peacock. They walked around their yard in circles while cooing at each other. Adorable.

My, what great hooves you have, Gully!

Athena keeps topping herself in the great photo department. “Don’t you just LOVE my manicure??”

Aside from the fact that having tons of cats around is awesome to begin with, I love that I meet new ones all the time. This is Me Lord (I know, right? Great name!). He seeks me out every week now and accompanies me on all sorts of visits. Ultimate affectionate spewing from this cat here!

And THIS is Bailey. She lives in the barn and was pretty shy at the beginning. Once she gave me her seal of approval, she revealed how cuddly she is. And what awesome markings! It’s a bit hard to tell from the picture, but her face is split right down the middle of her nose. One side is calico and the other half is solid black, minus the stark white whiskers that spring out of her face.

Oh, how I love this girl.

Speaking of the felines, I discovered this hut for the cats this week. It is located right in the middle of everything! (Insert snarky comment about my awesome powers of observation.)

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And now a couple of introductions:

Here is a gaggle of the geese at the nursery. They are usually in a giant penned in area that I can’t see from inside – disappointing! – but that morning, they were out and about among the flowers. “HONK!”

I’d like for you to meet Bear.

He is one of the ponies at the nursery and we took to each other immediately. On my first visit, all of the ponies came forward to say hello (and “I’d like some food, please.”) which was a wonderful start. For animals who clearly had a rough time before they ended up at the nursery, as evidenced immediately by their lack of body fat and brittle mane hair, it felt great that they all sniffed my hand. Three let me pet their heads, one allowed me to scratch his rear, and one wouldn’t let me make contact at all.

Over the next few posts, I will introduce them fully, but now, a bit more about Bear. This incredibly soft guy (most of the ponies have amazingly soft almost angora-ish hair – I’d go as far as to say fur) stood apart from all of them. Not only did he like being pet, but he allowed me to put my forehead on his. He allowed neck hugs. He even stared into my eyes. Our connection was immediate and every time I’ve visited him since, he’s just as affectionate. Lunar does not stare into my eyes even though I know how much she loves me, so having Bear just gaze and gaze at me is a whole new level of connecting. Instant love.

What had the most impact on me, though, was when I mistakenly moved my arm abruptly, a few visits in, and he literally jumped backwards. I had no idea that he had a history of abuse. While devastated about his past, I was overjoyed that he’d trusted me from the start. With a bit of coaxing, he came back to the fence for more hugs and I have been careful since that moment about keeping my animation in check.

Every day, I spend half of my lunch break with the ponies (and Jeffrey the goat!). I discovered on my second or third visit that they LOVE dandelions, so on most days, I pick a bunch on my way to see them. I think they are all fantastic munchkins and am enjoying learning about each of them, but Bear certainly made a beeline into my heart.

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Filed under athena, cats, emus, geese, goats, gulliver, horses, niko, peacocks, sheep, winslow farm

Beautiful Day!

Compared to the ruckus last week, this visit was pretty low key. The pheasant was scarce, although I did notice two teenagers running after him and asked if they knew the bird they were chasing. “Yes, it’s the one from the bird house.” He is the one that I’ve mentioned who looks like a brightly colored parrot with a long pheasant tail. “Um, no. This is the one who lives over on this side in the cage with “attack bird” on it. Stop chasing him.” Suprisingly, I didn’t see him again for the day. Not going to lie in saying that I didn’t mind at all.

This was the first time Athena sat down in my presence. Either she was tired or she’s trusting me more. I choose Door Number Two.

It also gave me a chance to see her pretty eyes from the side.

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A mountain goat!!! (Bah dah bum.)

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While looking for Waterford to see if he wanted some of the hay I’d brought him, I took my first peek at the inside of his little house. Obviously, a photo can’t encompass how cute he is while he snores, so I’ll let your imagination do the work. Picture, if you will, his giant ears happily flapping about, a surprisingly agile snout that’s up and down and side to side and up and down, all the while erupting with snorty goodness. I seriously contemplated lying down for a nap with him, but his chompy tendencies stopped me. Maybe next time…

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Every week, at least one of the alpacas takes a giant dirt bath and I LOVE it!

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Filed under alpacas, athena, goats, humor, pheasant, photography, piggies, sheep, waterford, winslow farm

Oh, the plumage!

After I was done at the barn on Monday, I stopped in to see the turkey. He apparently has lice or another invasive bug and a volunteer had caught it. But I could always see the little buggies crawling all over his head during our visits, so I’m assuming that someone went in for kisses. He had been sprayed down so his colors looked duller than usual. He looked a little sadder too, which made resisting my urge to pick him up and hug him even tougher. But I still pet him and purelled right afterwards like usual. While I sat with him, I could see one of the peacocks from the donkey barn standing outside the little house staring at the birds inside. I think it was a mixture of strutting his stuff to show up the two peacocks and a little “hey, there” to the peahen. I left the birds and wandered outside to the geese.

Ah, the geese. They are, by far, the loudest animals on the farm. They stand around squawking at absolutely everything. Giant arguments full of big bodies and little heads waddling around in fury. Their conversation style is right up my alley so after being shouted at I yell, “HI!” back. They’ll run up to me, expecting me to flee and when I don’t, they veer away really quickly. I decided it was high time we became friends. So, I squatted down and probably because of the new height difference, I was approached and contemplated face to face. Geese have VERY intense stares. One hand motion and a bitey reaction back though and I made the decision to be great friends without petting.

I moved to sit on a short barrel – as squatting is not a long distance activity – and as the goose sat in front of me staring and staring and staring at me, I noticed that off in the distance the peacock had decided it was high time to show off his beauty. I don’t remember ever having seen a peacock with plumage flared in person. I was far away and it still looked big. But what I thought was even better was when he’d turn his body and show his hind-feathers. They’re tan and black and the backside of each looming feather was plain and ordinary. What an exquisite dichotomy!

In every photo of a peacock I’ve ever seen, it shows the larger than life plumage swarming with radiant colors. And all of the sudden, I get a glimpse of the other side and I’m left just as astounded. The idea that this bird swells with pride showing off all this crazy color and instead of giving a 360 view of these punch-you-in-the-face blues and shimmery greens, turn him around and all of the sudden he becomes his ugly duckling ancestor. I’m so fascinated by this! Is the rooster snickering behind his back thinking, “who does this jerk think he is?” Does the peahen go, “He is SO HOT!” only to change her tune when he turns around by mistake? And his backside is large and fluffy! Flip him around and you see a skinny little neck! Of course I know there are biological reasons behind all of this that I haven’t delved into yet, but wow! What a cool discovery!

These pics of the peacock were taken from my far away perch with the goose, but I just had to get some images of it. He’s definitely going to be an interesting subject in the upcoming months.

It’s hard to see that the back of each long feather isn’t colored because of the blues seeping through, but try to imagine it all dark brown from the tan feathers up. He showed his feathers by turning back and forth for about ten minutes and then he folded them in one fell swoop and it was back to business as usual.

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This one was taken from the barrel so he was right at my knees. While squatting, he was even closer to my face. I was tempted so many times to pet him, but the foreboding chomp fest held me back.

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This is a common site at the farm, as of late: flaming piles o’ doody.

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I’m sure that all of these photos of Athena look exactly alike, but this is my favorite yet!

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It’s hard to see his troubled side when looking at his sweet, sweet face.

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Somebody found a snack! And look at those awesome nostrils, flared with the exciting smell of a found treasure.

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Roof Kitty! Surveying the scene. Ready to Pounce. Merowr.

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Filed under athena, cats, geese, horses, humor, lunar, peacocks, photography, sheep, spirit, turkey, winslow farm